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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

At Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Carah One Whaley warns “No, the Big Lie Hasn’t Gone Away.” As Whaley explains, “An analysis of 552 Republican candidates running for Senate, House of Representatives, governor, secretary of state, and attorney general in the 2022 elections shows that close to half (221 candidates) who made statements on a spectrum from those who accepted the 2020 election outcome with reservations to those who fully denied the results won in 2022….The good news is that surveys show a majority of Americans are confident their votes will be accurately cast and counted. The bad news is that confidence is still at historic lows and, not surprisingly, there is a partisan divide….Public concerns about election fairness, security, and safety of course need to be taken seriously. And, election administration can always be improved, from increasing voting machines to better ballot design and process management, and consistent application of voting laws, just to name a few. The bigger challenge ahead, however, is to address the continued concerted efforts by those in power (or seeking it) to use unfounded claims of voter fraud to erode public trust in elections for their own political purposes. The extent to which unfounded claims of election fraud have become integrated into campaigns and used as a tools for fundraising efforts are particularly corrosive to democratic institutions when they translate into attempts to reshape voting laws that create divergent access and rights, and contribute to rising violent threats against election workers. And while it may be a challenge endemic to one party now, that doesn’t mean the roles won’t reverse in the future….Finally, Newton’s third law may very well apply to the politics of election denialism. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction; for every voter mobilization, there is a counter voter mobilization. In response to the election denialism as a campaign strategy, millions of voters showed up to the polls in 2022 mobilized by the belief that democracy itself was on the ballot. This itself may reverberate into the future by setting the stage for a partisan arms race that further exacerbates conflict and tensions over claims to electoral legitimacy.”

In his Washington Post column, “Raphael Warnock, with Herschel Walker’s help, is now a national voice,” E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes, “Sen. Raphael G. Warnock’s reelection is a rebuke to the idea that partisanship overwhelms personal character, another blow to Donald Trump’s domination of the Republican Party and a warning to the GOP that moderate suburban voters will continue to resist flawed candidates and right-wing extremism….His victory in a contest many thought a year ago would be unwinnable for a Democrat will transform him into a major voice in his party, which hopes to make more inroads in the Deep South by mobilizing a multiracial political coalition of the sort that sent Warnock back to Washington….Republican control of the House will limit what the party can accomplish legislatively in the final years of President Biden’s term. But by winning the party a 51st seat, Warnock will give Democrats an outright majority on Senate committees that are split evenly in the current Congress. This will speed the confirmation of judges and ease the way for midterm personnel changes in the Biden administration. Getting Biden’s appointees through Senate committees will be much easier….Democrats will also be able to issue committee subpoenas without Republican support, creating a useful counter-force to a Republican House intent on launching a large number of highly partisan investigations. The Senate, if it wished, could also pick up on investigations begun by Democrats in the House over the past two years….Although the role of Walker’s shortcomings cannot be underestimated, the ability of Democrats to prevail again in a Georgia runoff speaks both to demographic change in the state and exceptional organizing work by the party and civil rights groups over the last decade….”

Now for the bad news: “Republicans Still Have A Clear Path To Retaking The Senate In 2024,” Geoffrey Skelley reports at FiveThirtyEight, and writes, “The good news for Republicans, however, is that the 2024 Senate map puts them in a better position to take control of the chamber than it does for Democrats to hold onto it….Democrats have more than twice as many Senate seats to defend in 2024 as Republicans, an imbalance that gives the GOP a clear path to capturing the Senate — even if the Georgia result has given Democrats a little breathing room. At present, 34 Senate seats will be up for election,1 and of those, Democrats (including the independent senators who caucus with them) hold 23 to the GOP’s 11, as the table below shows….That Democrats have so many seats to defend in 2024 is a byproduct of past electoral success. Each class of Senate seats is up every six years,2 so the group of seats up in 2024 was previously up in 2018 and each six-year mark prior to that….Democrats now must defend the now red-leaning seats of Sens. Jon Tester of Montana, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. All three won reelection in 2018, but those elections took place in a heavily Democratic-leaning environment that they can’t count on having again in 2024. In addition to those three redder seats, Republicans will surely also target swing-state seats in Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin….Though Republicans have ample pickup opportunities, Democrats can realistically hope to flip only two GOP-held seats in 2024: Florida and Texas. Still, given the strong Republican showings in Florida recently and the inability of Texas Democrats to break through statewide, even as the state has become a lighter shade of red, the GOP incumbents will likely start as favorites in these seats in a way that isn’t true for Brown, Manchin and Tester….With Georgia’s runoff in the rearview mirror, the 2024 election cycle can truly begin. And while the Democrats’ victory in the Peach State has helped give them a bit of wiggle room in the Senate, the overall map remains favorable to Republicans. To hold onto the Senate, Democrats need a lot of things to go right in 2024. While the 2022 midterm result showed how that can happen, Democrats will probably have to retain at least a couple of seats that are redder than any they had to defend this year — a difficult task in a world with fewer split-ticket outcomes between presidential and Senate voting.”

At The New Republic’s “The Soapbox,” editor Michael Tomasky interviews Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA17). Tomasky  observes, “Economic patriotism, to Khanna, means repatriating manufacturing to the United States on a major scale, reversing the lamentable trend of the last half-century that left the U.S. importing all the stuff it used to make. “We can build industry in every part of America,” he told me….Khanna is part of the new breed of Democrats who say: Working- and middle-class economics comes first. Yes, much else is important, but it’s all connected to the party’s approach to economic questions, and convincing—no, showing—working- and middle-class Americans that the Democratic Party has changed and is on their side. “People are right to be upset at the governing classes,” he said. “We need to say, ‘Look, we have an actual agenda to fix this.’”…We talked a lot about what the Democrats can do in these next two years, when big legislative victories won’t be possible. Khanna has clearly been thinking about this and has interesting takes on it.” The interview:

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